F IRE (Financial Independence, retire early) must be on the wish list of most of us except for the incorrigible workaholics. The trick to reach this state is to avoid living life with purely a ‘zindagi na milegi dobara’ outlook. This way one can avoid impulsive shopping and compulsive flaunting. Money saved is money earned and it can be invested while keeping in mind the ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ philosophy.
Then, in the mid-forties, one can say goodbye to ‘naukri chaakri’ and declare oneself as a unique specimen by wearing t-shirts embossed with words like- it’s my life, idler, unemployable, no time for work, Hedonism University etc. There are so many ways to keep oneself occupied- be an RTI activist, plant a Miyawaki forest, travel to Machu Picchu, troll on social media, binge watch OTT shows or be a party animal.
I have always been envious of those who were able to attain FIRE. So, when I met such a person at the house of a friend, I made it a point to get extra friendly with him so that I could get to know of his experiences. He allowed me to publish his story-
Two decades ago, because of the fantabulous IIT-IIM combination, I got a job at a salary which made even my father envious of me, what to talk of others. A year ago, I calculated that not only me but even my next generation could survive on the corpus I had created. My wife opposed my move to hang up my boots but it was the only time in my life that I stood up to her firmly. The first few months were a breeze. I did everything for which I couldn’t find time during my job because of the dog-eat-dog work culture. I explored ‘mera Bharat mahan’ at my own pace- just as they do in travel shows. One day I fractured my left leg when I overstretched my luck while riding a rented motorcycle in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. After that, I decided to limit travelling and became a house-husband. My wife would go in the morning to her office and the teenage kids to their school leaving me as the uncrowned king during that period. But this phase was brief too. Slowly more and more of the housework and various errands were assigned to me. Even my friends started ‘using me’- to receive their loved ones from the railway station, for baby-sitting and even for representing them in courts. I tried to give purpose to my life by doing social work but my so-called NGO remained a single man organization. An idle mind is eagerly sought after by alcohol- I offered feeble resistance to it. To get away from it all, I shifted to a cottage in Himachal Pradesh. But the building developed cracks during the recent monsoon. This was a message from the universe- Hey you, take a u turn. So, I am going to join a company next month. Fate is a slippery character!
Jas Kohli is a noted humour writer. He is the author of three bestselling humour novels, ‘Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!’, ‘Lights! Scalpel! Romance!’, and ‘Anything to Look Hot’.